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Kyle Tucker evolved at the plate and now is carrying the Astros’ lineup

After a pretty slow beginning of season, Tucker is raking for the Astros since May 9.

MLB: Houston Astros at Seattle Mariners Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Tucker didn’t have a great start in 2021. After his first 33 games (April 1 - May 8), the 24-year-old was slashing .175/.242/.342 with 16 RBIs, 25 strikeouts, and a .584 OPS, besides struggling to hit everything but fastballs. But everything clicked for King Tucker since May 9, going through the best time of his young MLB career and being a fundamental part of the Astros’ success.

To get you in context, Tucker has played in 80 games since the cited date. In that span, he has 97 hits, 24 doubles, two triples, and 19 home runs, along with 60 runs batted in, 51 scored runs, 27 bases on balls, only 49 strikeouts, 10 stolen bases, and a .324/.378/.609/.987 slash line.

Tucker has been a key man in at least eight wins, and one of them was the first game of the series against the Padres, when he hit a clutch go-ahead, two-run home run. Not for nothing, he’s leading the Astros in wRC+, with a 169 mark that’s way above Carlos Correa’s 148.

Playing in his fourth MLB campaign, Tucker ranks fourth among the Astros in hits since May 9, but is first in doubles, first in triples, third in home runs, second in ribbies, first in steals (though Myles Straw stole 12 in that period before the trade), first in batting average, first in slugging percentage, and first in OPS as well.

Tucker is combining a very high fly ball rate of 45.0% —which tops the Astros— with a hard-hit percentage (41.7%) that’s also atop for Houston, just above Yordan Álvarez’s 41.4%. That will obviously give you plenty of home runs and extra-base hits, which has been the case for King Tucker over the mentioned period.

The best thing is that Tucker has evolved as a hitter or at least left behind his struggles against breaking and offspeed stuff. Take a look at this…

Tucker vs offspeed/breaking pitches until May 8: .177 AVG | .306 SLG

Tucker vs offspeed/breaking pitches since May 9: .327 AVG | .637 SLG

That’s the main point of Tucker’s success and the reason why he’s been a force in the Astros’ lineup. And now, with Álvarez probably missing some time after fouling a ball off his left leg, the Astros need Tucker to stay strong at the plate. At least, he’s been as hot as anyone in his last 11 games, going 15-for-39 with seven extra-base hits and nine runs batted in.

We’re finally seeing Tucker explode all the talent he showed through all the MiLB system. For him, it’s just the beginning of a very promising career.